MATT BARLOW’S WORLD CUP DIARY: Brazil are delighted to get the band back together and there’s still a strong Italian presence at the tournament… PLUS, how an England goal is at the centre of a new interpretation of offside
As the days tick by until the World Cup kicks off with the hosts Qatar facing Ecuador on Sunday, the excitement continues to build.
With all teams stepping up their preparations in the Gulf state, each nation will be leaving no stone unturned in their quest for glory over the next few weeks.
In light of that, Sportsmail’s MATT BARLOW pens his latest World Cup diary from Doha.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup is now just days away from getting started with Qatar vs Ecuador
Brazil delighted to get the band back together
England have their dartboard, video game consoles and basketball hoops for recreation but Brazil are passing their free time with their Pagode, a samba band.
It was a famous part of the World Cup in 2002, when they last won the trophy, and the Brazilian media turned up in Qatar keen to know who was involved this time round. Real Madrid’s Rodrygo told them he’s on the banjo, Raphinha is on tambourine and Dani Alves is on the tom-toms. Richarlison, affectionately known as Pombo (pigeon), just ‘gets in the way’, he added.
Brazil have got their iconic samba band back together for the World Cup – it was a famous part of their triumph in the 2002 tournament
Budweiser mood is alright but the top brass are yet to arrive
The mood inside the W Hotel, where Budweiser have made their base in the swish West Bay area of Doha, was not as gloomy as might have been anticipated on the morning after it became clear they would not be allowed to sell their beer to fans inside World Cup stadiums.
This may have had something to do with the fact the company’s top brass were still in the air on the long-haul flight from the USA and yet to arrive in Qatar.
Strong Italian presence remains at the World Cup
No Italy at the World Cup, of course, which is always a shame for the media (violins, please) because they never fail to serve up fine coffee and pasta at Italian team HQ. Italy remain firmly in control of FIFA’s refereeing operation, however, with Pierluigi Collina serving as chairman of the officials committee and Daniele Orsato confirmed as the man to run tomorrow’s opener between Qatar and Ecuador. At least they have been wise enough to leave English referees out of the VAR booth.
England at centre of new interpretation of offside
There was a supporting role for England during Collina’s pre-tournament presentation in Doha, with Harry Maguire’s opener against Albania during the qualifying campaign cited as a good example of a goal that won’t be allowed under the interpretation of offside at the World Cup. To refresh memories, Kalvin Phillips blocked the run of an Albanian defender at a set-piece to give Maguire the freedom to head the first goal in a 5-0 Wembley win.
Legendary Italian referee Pierluigi Collina is serving as chairman of the officials committee
Harry Maguire’s opening goal against Albania during the qualifying campaign is cited as an example of a goal that won’t be allowed under the interpretation of offside at the World Cup